IPL

IPL 2022: Kane able to tame Titans

Sunrisers Hyderabad handed Gujarat Titans their first defeat in four IPL games with an eight-wicket hammering at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. Despite a liberal helping of 20 wides, GT managed only 162 against a varied attack. An opening stand of 64, followed by the usual calculated pursuit from Kane Williamson, made it a straightforward finish for Nicholas Pooran.

Sunrisers’ telling variety

For an attack that began with a nightmare opening over that leaked 17 runs – including 11 in wides alone – Sunrisers showed why their bowling can still sting, even without erstwhile talisman Rashid Khan, who turned out for their opponents on Monday. Some attacks are said to be predictable due to a sense of sameness in their bowlers. There is no chance of anyone detecting any hint of sameness in this bowling bunch. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s swing is allied with Marco Jansen’s steep bounce. T Natarajan’s yorkers are complemented by Umran Malik’s extreme pace. Then there is Washington Sundar’s accuracy.

For instance, Sai Sudharsan found a Jansen bouncer too hot to handle, and then succumbed as he played early to a Natarajan ball that stuck in the pitch. And before his bat could even come down, Matthew Wade had been rapped plumb in front by a 149.3 kph ripper from Malik. The GT innings was in desperate need of some sort of a holding act amid all the flailing support roles, and it came from skipper Hardik Pandya.

Hardik buckles down

At 42 deliveries, it was Hardik’s slowest fifty in the IPL. Apart from the over when he responded to a blow on the helmet from Malik with cover-driven and pulled fours, the GT captain put his head down and batted through the innings. However, he’d surely have liked to have scored a boundary or three after the 13th over, which was when he hit his last one on the night. But try as he might, Pandya just wasn’t able to get under the full deliveries of the Sunrisers seamers and time the attempted hits. He was forced to mostly push straight, an indication of how Sunrisers squeezed him. The added responsibility on the new skipper’s shoulders is evident; he’s got 141 runs in four games this IPL, but at a strike rate of 122.60, with only two sixes from the 115 balls he has faced so far.

Had Abhinav Manohar not played one of the most fortunate innings one’ll see, GT may have struggled to even reach 160. Not only was he put down as many as three times towards the end of the innings, three of his edges also went to the boundary. In between, he clubbed a few meaty blows during a 21-ball 35.

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Abhishek’s Powerplay revival

The first four overs of the Sunrisers chase brought a grand total of 11 runs. It was as if Kane Williamson and Abhishek Sharma were trying to get through the new ball unscathed. And the new ball was indeed causing some issues, for it was in the hands of Mohammed Shami. His fourth ball began to straighten on Williamson in the air before cutting back after pitching and hitting the pad. There was no way anyone could have got bat to that delivery in any format. But GT did not review and ball-tracking showed three reds later.

Shami tied down Abhishek Sharma with a conventional point and a short backward point. The left-hander appears to prefer the dab and the steer to the cut, and that short fielder was perfect for blocking the guided attempts.

With two overs of restrictions left, Williamson finally pulled and hooked Shami for boundaries, before Abhishek took four fours off Lockie Ferguson’s first over. The dabs and steers now found the gaps with Ferguson’s extra pace.

KW’s turn to anchor

Like his opposite number had done, but in a much more familiar role, Williamson set his stall out. Whenever the asking rate threatened to climb into double figures, he’d launch into a six. Else he was more than happy to tap it around for one, or push the boundary riders on the big square outfield for twos. Now and then, a ball would hit one of the cracks and cut into him. He’d brush that off as an exception and refocus. Suddenly, he’d walk across against a steaming Ferguson and paddle him over short fine for six. In short, a typical Sunrisers chase anchored by their captain.

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Williamson fell for 57 off 46 when he tried to slog Hardik straight instead of slicing over extra cover as he usually does. That left Nicholas Pooran and Aiden Markram with 34 to get off 23. And on a pitch where off-pace had been hard to time all night, Ferguson’s pace was all Pooran needed to propel Sunrisers home with five balls remaining.

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